Adventures @ the Back of the Pack


Under Construction

still working on this, I’ll finish someday….

big time info posted periodically

As I biked and hiked (hike-a-biked) the Colorado Trail I spent countless hours thinking about writing a book about my adventures. I’m not sure that anyone really cares about my adventures, but I am sure that many people want the data from my adventures.

Sure, one can buy the Colorado Trail Guidebook and the smaller databook. But those publications don’t really prepare a biker – a single speed bike packing freak – for the experience.

The usual questions exist for all those that travel the Colorado Trail, hikers and bikers… What is the elevation profile of each segment? Where is the water? Where are the campsites? Well, the official Colorado Trail books provide many answers to these questions. Go buy it, donate to the Colorado Trail. Just do it.

But there are other questions that exist and that I hope to answer with this set of information…. What are the actual elevation profiles? (Yes, it all depends on the ‘instrument’ used to gather the data.) How long will it take to bike / hike-a-bike each segment. What do I need to know in order to have a successful, fun, safe bike trip on the Colorado Trail. What is it REALLY LIKE?

To answer these questions I assembled a blog page for each segment and each bypass. The data includes a brief summary, the gps data and my travel time. I also provide links to all my pictures, the gpx files and the Google Earth kml files. Yep. It’s all there, just because.

So. I may not write a book – but books are so 20th century. Maybe this blog and set of pages will provide information useful to many. I’ll surely add to the site, improve the site, keep up the site… as I intend to spend many more summers on the Colorado Trail.

So check out all the pages on the right sidebar. Contact me if you have any questions. Let me know if you find any issues with my information or any real bad grammar mistakes or problems with my sentence structure. Ok that’s a joke.

All the CT Data – And Then Some


The Colorado Trail: Segments 4 & 5

It’s well known that the goal for 2012 is to travel ALL of the Colorado Trail – the 500+ miles on the bike and the 146.9 (+) Wilderness miles on foot. Are you confused? If so, look into it. 

HINT: You CANNOT travel the entire Colorado Trail on a bike. You gotta take some detours. So, if you want to see it all, find some walking shoes and hang with us… at the Back of the Pack.

uh, The Madre said we shouldn’t hitchhike
but can we get a ride to the bar down in Bailey?

The Motivation : The Colorado Trail : The Wilderness Areas:

  • I’m a 220 lbs singlespeed freak (who is in treatment for obesity) and a dude that wants to see it all – from the Back of the Pack.  So, just riding the Colorado Trail is not good enough for me… yeah, I’m a SLOW dude that needs elastic waistbands. Seriously.
    • The Colorado Trail is ~ 485 miles. But only 338.1 miles of the CT are accessible via bike, i.e.,  legal for bike action. So there are 5 Bypasses? Yep, you gotta skip ~ 147 miles, like 30.29% of the CT if you’re rolling on 2 wheels.
  • So, my adventures are about The Colorado Trail – but really, the adventures are about Colorado – just not ‘The Trail’. It’s about the mountains AND the trails, the history, the isolation, the miners, the explorers, the tough dudes, the tougher dudettes, the lifestyle in the Wild West, the freedom…. the whatever.
  • Yeah, the whatever… because it is whatever you want it to be.
Phatpacking the CT, Trip #1:

So, to achieve all this phatpacking on the CT, a few weeks ago (May 17th) Prob-eee and I headed out towards Bailey Colorado. The basics: start at the start of Segment 4, end at the end of Segment 5. In other words: FS Rd 560 (Wellington Lake Rd) to Long Gulch to Kenosha Pass. Simple enough. 2 days phatpacking, 1 night in the woods.Ok, enough talk, enough rambling. Lets get to the details, the details that MOTIVATE YOU to read all this info that we (I) generate @ Back of the Pack.
Lessons learned, Global:
  • If it works for bikepacking it’ll work for phatpacking 
  • Judd needs 1L of water for 21 miles. Prob-eee needs 4 or more L of water
  • The Lt Col & Prob-eee have similar genetic composition.  What am I talking about? You don’t’ have a need to know. But… the score:
    • Judd 1.1 
    • Prob-eee 6.3
  • Gotta take the heat, just because. And if you don’t get it, you won’t get it.
Lessons Learned, phatpacking:
  • Don’t carry 10+ lbs of liquid nourishment. You’ll only ‘need’ like 1L / 2.2 lbs per 10 hours / 20 miles. I think. Maybe.
    • Seriously – have a strategy for H20. Don’t carry water just to carry water.
  • Seasonal streams are seasonal. Year round streams are seasonal, seriously. 
The Colorado Trail… Still Learning:
  • Seg 1 – 4 can be viewed as ‘the ascent’ into the mountains
  • The southern bike bypass could be a brutal 80 miles. An additional long day. (The northern bypass goes through Bailey & up HWY 285, 28.x miles) 
    • It may be too much to deal with early on in an end-to-end CT attempt. Maybe. 
    • We may take the 50/50 chance (of survival) on the northern route, through Bailey, again.
What’s Weird:
  • New Mexico is Greener than parts of Colorado.
    • Yeah, that’s weird. It is dry up near Bailey and Kenosha Pass. It’ll be a long dry hot dangerous summer up there.
The Route, The Data:

The GPS says….

Segment 4: 16.5 miles, ascent / descent = 3418 ft / 1454 ft, time = 8 hrs 26 min
Segment 5: 14.4 miles, ascent / descent = 1992 ft / 2225 ft, time = 8 hrs 21 min

AND, full disclosure. This data is for a Segment 4 & 5 phatpacking adventure. The data will be slightly different if you park a car (enter / exit) at the eastern trailhead of Segment 5. Get it?AND. The data and more details will be posted, in the future.

The Pics, Some of Them:
if you want to see all the pics, find me / find them on google+. Dude. Dudette. If you want commentary…. good luck. I don’t feel like commentary.

The Slide Show. Kinda Boring. But Tenacious D Rules:

This is how We Roll:

pack it in

chill it

consume it

pack it out

What’s next, the rest of 2012:

  • Lt Col’s Rehabilitation Trip – San Juan Mtns, Memorial Day weekend
    • just kickin’ it at high altitude
    • done – survived – a blog posting will follow
  • 24 Hrs in the Enchanted Forest – June 16th / 17th
  • Colorado Trail – Seg 9-10 12-13 – early July
  • CTR ITT – start July 25th / end 10 days later
  • Colorado Trail – Seg 18-21 – early August
  • 24 hrs in the Sage – August 18th / 19th
  • Tommy knocker – Sept 1st / 2nd
  • Colorado Trail – Seg 24 – mid September

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail: The Presentation

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail: Presentations at REI… for The Colorado Trail Foundation

That’s right, we headed north to Colorado on the week of March 12th and successfully executed the Tour of BPR Psychobabble – that’s lingo for two big presentations at the REI shops in Boulder and Denver.

If you’re one of the 10s of 1000s that didn’t make it, here are all the slides to the presentation.

The presentation is 100 MBytes. That’s 100,000,000 bytes. And that’s 800,000,000 bits or 800,000,000 ONES & ZEROS. Seriously. Check out the links or check out the slides. Think about the info, send me emails if you have questions or want to RIP ME A NEW ONE.

the link: BikePackingTheColoradoTrai-Final-Denver-REI.ppt

another link: BikePackingTheColoradoTrai-Final-Denver-REI.pdf

If you have the stamina to go all the way – check out the Q&A session at the end of this post.

Dudes and Dudettes asked the questions, we could remember ~ 45 of them. And we provided some standard answers – from our view at the Back of the Pack.

Some Common Questions & Not So Common Answers – from the B.P.R. Dudes:
  • so, do you recommend riding with a friend or riding solo… on The Colorado Trail?
    • hypocritical answer from BPR
    • friends are great for the short trips, the shakedown trips, the overnight trips, the one or two day trips.
    • If your goal is an unsupported, end-to-end, adventure that is constrained by life’s responsibilities…. choose your traveling buddies wisely. the strain, the stress, the individual pace makes it very difficult to be ‘friendly’ during all walking & riding hours.
  • what research do you do? websites? etc?
    • i don’t do research unless I’m paid to do research.
    • ok, The TeddNeck did all the Internet research. i talked to friends. ok, emailed friends. i don’t talk on the phone.
    • BUT we both really believe that it’s all about experience. you may think that you know what gear is best, but you’ll learn about reality during the bikepacking adventures. and your opinions will swing radically based on YOUR adventures & experiences.
    • is a good site to start, but you probably already know that.
  • what about solar chargers?
    • skeptical answer from BPR
    • we are all about reliability and safety.
    • solar charges seem to be a bit heavy and bulky for us heavy & bulky dudes. I’m not sure if there is a good way to strap on the solar charger to get the benefit during the long days on the bike.
    • one major concern – will the solar charger break when you bite the dust? what happens when the solar charger breaks? gotta have a backup plan.
  • segments with mostly riding, minimal hike-a-bike
    • wow, tough question.
    • it all depends on how you roll, i.e., if you have 40 lbs of gear, gears, etc.
    • try segments 1 – 3, 6, 8, 11, 13. but there is always some walking
  • why so much hiking? the grade or rough terrain?
    • the grade and the terrain. at times we walked on level ground and downhill due to the extreme rocky terrain.
  • what about tires?
    • we roll on Maxxis. no specific reason. but we do believe that Maxxis tires are durable and last much longer than others.
    • up front – Maxxis Ardent 2.25
    • in the rear – Maxxis Ignitor 2.1
    • why a 2.1 in the rear? just because, need extra space with the chain stays, if you break a spoke and / or the rim bends, you’ll need the extra space until you can fix the issue.
  • why a SPOT beacon AND a GPS?
    • turn on the SPOT beacon in the AM and forget about it. it’s really for safety and to allow others to track you via the SPOT website(s), if others really care about you.
    • GPS is for navigation, you’ll be happy that you have it. unless you are ultra mountain man / mountain woman like.
  • is The Colorado Trail well marked?
    • absolutely! but when you are tired you miss many of the markings. so a GPS and a good sense of navigation are always required. don’t think that you can go out there & space out – you’ll get lost.
  • you really roll with hiking boots & platform pedals?
    • you know it. think about it, try it out. it may be a mental thing, i.e., you’re mental issues with ‘needing’ to be clipped in.
  • no warm food? what about coffee? i need coffee?
    • the Colorado Trail cures all your addictions, seriously
    • so you need coffee today – but after 5 days on the CT, you’ll realize that coffee is just a mental crutch.
    • JUST JOKING. it’s all a personal thing. coffee takes time to prepare. if you are on a serious schedule during an end-to-end adventure, you’ll just blow off the morning ritual.
  • how do you train?
    • TeddNeck trains ‘on the couch’
    • The Judd trains by riding for hours and hours and hours on the weekend, sometimes weekday rides happen too.
    • don’t forget about hiking, make sure you can do high altitude hiking
  • riding at night?
    • sometimes. but rarely. we don’t roll with the major lumen beasts that we use at 24 hour races. we roll with lights powered by AAs. not much light makes for slow going. so we usually stop at dusk.
  • set camping spots?
    • we always have a plan for set camping spots, but rarely do we follow the plan. the pace is just too unpredictable to stick to a ‘camping’ plan. With that being said, I think we’ll do much better this year and may actually stick to our ‘camping’ plan.
  • much trail traffic?
    • in remote sections…we saw about one hiker or one group of hikers / day
    • in sections near cities / towns, like near Durango or Denver, we saw many hikers & bikers
  • ideal bike for a non single speed freak
    • ok, I rarely talk about bikes that have those things called gears, but it’s always an option. if money is not an option and you aren’t interested in the single speed lifestyle, then go for a hard tail with front suspension and a 1 x 9 (or something) setup. no real need for the extra rings up front.
  • water filters?
  • precautions for wild animals – like mountain lions?
    • no precautions – just hope you don’t come face-to-face with a wild ferocious animal. if you do, look big and angry.
    • a big bottle / canister of bear spray could provide some comfort, but the bottles / canisters are BIG.
    • if you want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, go for a Desert Eagle.
  • what backpack did you use & why?
    • the Wingnut MPS Alpha. why? because The TeddNeck made the decision.
    • seriously, pick a pack that fits you and makes you happy. TeddNeck picked this pack because of a) the room and b) the design.
  • would you / could you put more weight in the backpack to make hike-a-bike easier?
    • no, we like to limit the weight on the back. yeah it’s clumsy to ascend some of the sections and a heavy bike makes it that much more difficult. but we think more gear on the bike is a good thing
  • the single speed gear setup / gear ratio?
    • we tried 32 x 20 but rolled out with 32×22 after the initial adventures on the CT.
  • platforms? hiking boots? seriously?
  • cold food? seriously?
    • yeah, seriously. you’ll learn to deal with it, especially when you are dead to the world and just want to eat and sleep.
    • but, as stated below, The Judd may roll with a stove this year just for the few leisurely nights when a warm meal could be an option.
  • what mechanical issues did you have?
    • great, now you’ve jinxed us.
    • a broken spoke at mile 470. that’s it.
    • ok, headset loosened up on one of the 100 mile rides.
  • who makes the bags, how did you choose?
    • we use Revelate and CDW bags
    • we use what was available, custom frame bags are hard to find and long wait times may be an issue. plan ahead
    • the bags are waterproof and you’ll be happy that they are.
    • it sounds like new bag companies are popping up in various locations, look around. probably some really good stuff is out there.
  • do you like feedbags? what do you put in them?
    • feedbags are AWESOME, they go up on the handlebars. i primarily store food in the feedbags.
    • I may get two more for water bottles, if I can fit them on the bike.
  • why hiking boots? why not low tops? need waterproof shoes?
    • good question. for wet conditions, like in July, you’ll be happy that you have waterproof hiking boots. later in the season, like late August and September, go with whatever you are comfortable with. BUT – be prepared for everything.
  • what % of the hike-a-bike could you ride with gears & suspension?
    • we are guessing, but think that a person on a geared bike with MINIMAL gear may be able to ride 20 more miles. So it’s probably a 20% / 80% thing, i.e., a geared person will hike about 80% of what we hiked.
  • what do you pack on the handlebars / fork? frame? seat? backpack?
  • do you know how to change spokes?
    • yeah, we change spokes on a routine basis. it’s not easy, at times. it may require removal of the rotor. but a bent rim can cause havoc to your bikepacking adventure. so be prepared
  • advice on safe riding?
    • we walk anything that’s questionable or looks unsafe. don’t want to bust a face or collarbone in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
  • why repackage vacuum packed freeze dried food?
    • don’t ask me, that’s a TeddNeck thing. And he was a Boy Scout. I quit the Boy Scouts after 1 meeting. So give Tedd a call – but remember, he doesn’t answer his phone.
  • platforms? hiking boots? seriously?
  • need electrolytes?
    • you’ll think that you do. fit them in if you can. but after a number of days on the trail you’ll just forget about all those things that give you a ‘psychological’ boost. the physical boost? who knows. the pain and fatigue is severe, just keep you head in the game and you’ll survive, no matter what.
  • wear bike gear, i.e., a chamois thing?
    • the chamois thing? yeah, it was part of the gear. don’t really know why. we quickly gave up on the chamois creme. believe it or not – your body adapts to all this stuff.
  • is a 45 deg bag really warm enough?
    • with a bivy bag or tarp tent – definitely. you could go with a 30 deg bag if you are worried. at night, the temp will drop down to the 30s, but that extra layer will allow for the small 45 deg bag.
  • what is the difference between riding gloves and night gloves?
    • riding gloves are padded and for riding – but we only wear the gloves 50% of the time.
    • night gloves are for warmth at night – for sleeping. night gloves would be destroyed in one day of extreme riding.
  • why not a white gas stove? (white gas vs alcohol vs solid)
    • it’s all about volume and weight.
    • figure out what makes you happy, what you are willing to sacrifice.
    • I may pack a white gas stove / fuel for the 2012 adventure – because I’ll have extra room on my Black Sheep SnowRoller.. a FatBike.
  • can you envision bikepacking the CT with no backpack? 
    • yes, but bad attitudes should not be a limiter!
    • seriously, we have ideas to reduce weight in the backpack, but a pack with water may always be required, for us.
    • believe it or not, everyone says “I can’t ride with packs”. (TeddNeck said this for years.) But in bikepacking you’ll experience more fatigue / pain that you’ve ever experienced. It’ll make your issues with backpacks irrelevant.
    • so, just find a good fitting pack. you’ll need the room.
  • why 2 single person tents for 2 people, i.e., why not a 2 person tent?
    • uh, you couldn’t pay me to sleep with my brother, The TeddNeck
    • ok, solo unsupported is our goal – this means no help from your buddy or brother. gotta have a solo tent.
    • you cold split up the weight and roll with a 2 person tent, especially if you are out with your significant other. it’s always an option, maybe a good option.
    • but then again, I’ll never share a tent with a dude that STINKS from multiple days on The Colorado Trail.
  • does titanium absorb shock?
    • yeah, titanium, my addiction. titanium flexes (compliance is the term?) and is awesome, but expensive.
  • why 2 sets of clothes?
    • stench and wetness. be prepared. try to have a dry set of clothes to put on each morning. it’ll help keep your mental state at ‘good’ level. whatever that means.
  • do you wash clothes in a stream?
    • nope, we never stopped long enough to do stuff like that. I did mail a clean set of clothes to Buena Vista (general delivery) and that saved me (us) from some NASTY stench. stench is stench, but NASTY stench is unbearable.
  • type of sunscreen?
    • anything that is ‘thick’. put it on routinely. and all sunscreen burns when it slides (with the sweat) into your eyes.
  • bugs in tarp tents?
    • nope, tarp tents are awesome – for wet environments or areas with predicable (yet unpredictable) nightly storms.
  • what about rolling with panniers?
    • nope. too much hike-a-biking. people have done it with panniers but they would be in the way big time with all the hiking, pushing, etc.
if you have any questions – email me. it may take some time for me to reply, as the bikepacking season is rapidly approaching and I limit my time on ‘the couch‘.